A dreary day here in New York and I feel like whinging and I need to unload. This is long, it rambles and I’m not even sure that I have a point, but it’s how I’m feeling today and I refuse to edit it for content or length. I’ll understand if you haven’t the intestinal fortitude to read through all of this crap. 🙂
While I suppose that I’ve always been different, it wasn’t until I was about 12 or 13 that I really thought or did anything about it. I felt alone and that I was a freak and that I was the only person in the world to feel the way I did. There was no internet, no support groups – just me and my secret feeding off of each other like some sick symbiosis. Like most teenagers, I wanted to ‘fit in’ but found it quite difficult and ultimately found myself ‘on the outside’ most of the time. By the end of high school, I was miserable and ready to cut my losses and call it quits. I came pretty close, but ultimately decided to stick it out a bit longer. I’ve often wondered if I made the right choice.
Between 18 and 35 I managed to attend university, meet a wonderful girl who actually liked me, get married and have a child (my wife had the child, but you get the idea. :)) I ‘resolved’ (i.e. rationalized) my issues during this time with the explanation that I was a ‘guy’ just like any other, but with a few quirky things I like to do. I pledged and was made a ‘brother’ of a national fraternity, I got married, worked and had a family – just one of the ‘guys’ if you will. It all sounded good and it worked – for a while.
Then I discovered the internet and Usenet. For those who don’t know, Usenet are the public internet ‘newsgroups’ – not unlike these forums – but largely unmoderated and quite often a free-for-all. I found the crossdressing groups and a whole ‘community’ of other people like myself. Finally – someplace where I felt *included* as opposed to excluded. I logged (too) many hours there and a search in Google Groups for me in alt.support.crossdressing will turn up hundreds of posts starting around 1997-98. My time there, however, came with a price. Perhaps I was just overdue – but I wound up having a meltdown as all my ‘issues’ came to a head.
It took me a while to sort it all out – again. When the smoke cleared, I found myself enlightened with the knowledge that there was more to the world of gender than simply ‘men’ and ‘women’. I realized that I didn’t ‘fit’ into either camp, and that ultimately, I didn’t feel that I really had any gender in particular – “Both… and Neither…” I’d say. I also found out something else: I no longer felt that sense of belonging with my peers on line. Yes, I made my posts, explained my position and lobbied for my definition of self. But for a few likeminded souls, I was once again on the outside. I decided that we ‘in-between’ people needed a newsgroup of our own, so I went through the whole proposal process and created alt.support.intergendered. We had a good run – about a year or so of activity and some *really* good discussions. Ultimately, however, traffic died down and the group is now all but dead. It doesn’t even get spammed. 😦 I was alone again.
As I said before, we all just want to fit in. While sorting my life out, I struck up a friendship with a T* girl in Nevada. For about a year, we exchanged novella length emails offering support and friendship for each other. She was TS tracked and I wasn’t. Ultimately she and her wife separated and my friend wound up moving on. The emails between us slowed and it’s been a couple of years since I’ve heard from her. We were two people who connected – really connected – for a short time and helped each other get through a difficult situation. I can accept that the ‘parting’ was inevitable, but it only reinforces my feeling as an outsider.
For the last four years or so, I have been the maintainer of the charters for the four Usenet newsgroups: alt.fashion.crossdressing, alt.support.crossdressing, alt.support.intergendered and alt.support.crossliving. I post the charters weekly and scan the groups – but rarely participate in any threads. I’ve grown too apart from the ‘culture’ of Usenet and frankly, I have neither the time nor desire to get into flame wars any more. It was good while it lasted, but I just don’t fit there anymore.
End of December I found a new online forum which is, so far the best online group I’ve seen. The members are courteous and there seems to be a *genuine* sense of community there. Everyone involved is to be commended for making it the place that it is. In my search for a community of my peers, this seemed promising.
Someone there posted to the effect that it’s a lonely place trying to live outside the societal ‘norms’ for gender and I can attest to that. I have been reading about what everyone else is doing and has going on in their lives. While there is very much to which I can and do relate, I can’t help but feel that I’m somehow removed from it all. There has to be place I fit in.
So I start to play the label game (again) – and I hate labels. I should be well over this stage, but it sneaks back now and again when I’m in a funk …
Am I a crossdresser? Insofar as I wear women’s clothing almost exclusively – yes I am. Do I try and be as feminine as I can – no, not really. While I do have some ‘girly’ traits, I’m just not into the whole dress up thing. I did it for a while – almost a year. Skirts, blouse, hose & pumps on an almost daily basis. It was fun, I liked it – and I kind of outgrew it. I own exactly three dresses (which haven’t really been worn in about five years) and no skirts. I’m more of a ‘trousers and jumper’ kind of girl. ? My ‘look’ – such as it is – is somewhere in the middle. It confuses people, which is good. I have a person goal to screw with at least one person’s head every day. I think by and large I succeed – even if that person is me.
Am I Transgender? Insofar as I identify as something other than a ‘man’ or ‘woman’, yes. Do I ‘live as a woman’ – no. I don’t know that I could. I don’t ‘feel’ like a woman… I don’t ‘feel’ like a man… I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean – ‘feel like a woman’… How the hell could I? It’s an entire set of experiences to which I will *never* have access. And while I was raised as a boy, I maintain that being the way I am didn’t allow me to have the experiences that regular ‘boys’ do. I feel like something – but bog only knows what it is.
And on and on it goes – until I’ve run out of labels and names to call myself.
I spent my entire adolescence hating that I felt the way I felt and that I did the things I did. I was made fun of and felt I deserved it. I felt like a freak. All I wanted was to know where my place in the world was. I mean, was it really so much to ask? Surely I fit in *somewhere*… Someone, just point me to my corner of the playground – PLEASE!
So after some thirty years of self loathing and self indulgence; of purges and promises; of therapy and self reflection; of education and understanding – after turning myself inside-out and *finally* accepting who and what I am, I found my place: standing outside the fence of the playground, watching the other kids play.
And do you know what the really amusing part of this is? (I know you’ve been waiting for the funny part.) This is where I was all along. Clearly, I’ve lost the plot somewhere along the way. As a kid, I didn’t fit in and I felt like a freak – it’s now clear why. I need only look in the mirror and acknowledge that which is staring back at me. It couldn’t be more obvious if it was tattooed across my forehead.
Sure, I have a few friends and sometimes the other kids will play with me. But for the most part, I’m off on my own, standing by the fence – and even that’s too close. So I walk through the gate and find myself outside. I take a deep breath… It feels right. It feels safe. I feel I’m finally where I belong.
And as I look around, I find myself firmly rooted in the middle of nowhere – and it really is a lonely place.